16. February 2013 · Comments Off on What Does it Take for a Successful Long Training Run? · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,
Just before the Gulf Coast Half Marathon, April 2011. There are many things I had to do before I was ready to take this run.

Just before the Gulf Coast Half Marathon, Pensacola Beach, FL, April 2011. There are many things I had to do before I was ready to take this run.

I’ve discussed before how my brain goes through some pretty funky thought exercises when I’m taking long training runs (as well as long drives by myself).

On Friday I took my last training run before the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon next weekend.  This last run was somewhat delayed because the week prior I threw out my back somehow and I had to rest it for a week.

For this last run, I had to turn around after about 1/3 of a mile because I had forgotten something. This got me thinking about everything I have to do before taking a long run.*** I tend to get a bit Princess-and-the-Pea-ish about making sure everything is perfect, otherwise I could get miserable in a hurry.

***Much of this doesn’t apply in official races, since water is provided and I’m not by myself for long stretches.

The night before:

  • I need to make sure I don’t eat anything the night before that will make me unwell the following morning. I was pretty close this past week, we went out to dinner for Valentine’s Day and I had some of the Asian-fusion salsa which gave me indigestion. I was nervous it would carry overnight, but thankfully it didn’t.
  • Charge my music player; charge my headphones. I have Bluetooth headphones now that I absolutely love, it’s important they’re charged enough for 2+ hours of music.

About 30-45 minutes beforehand:

  • Eat a high protein, high energy breakfast.  Eggs, a protein shake, a banana.
  • Start stretching. I don’t do a ton of stretching, but this week I went through some of the stretches for my back that I had learned in physical therapy.
  • Drink a large glass of water.

Just before I go:

  • Apply Body Glide. What is Body Glide? It’s a product that minimizes chafing. Good stuff. I apply it in several places, and I’ll spare you the details.

  • Fill my Camelbak. I have a fanny-pack style Camelbak FlashFlo 50 oz. pack that I bought in Spring 2000. Yep, it’s pretty old. But I absolutely LOVE IT. It has a small pocket on the outside where I can stash my car key, ID card, energy gels, and some cash if necessary. The exact one I have has been redesigned quite a bit; you can see the current model here.

  • Get dressed. Not all of my running clothing will suffice for an extra-long run. Thanks to recent clothing innovations, I now have cooler, seamless options. The less seams the better. Also, I only have a couple pair of socks that are applicable for long runs. They’re both by Smartwool and I NEVER get blisters with them.
  • Do my hair. This is another important thing. I don’t want to think about my hair on the run. This means it’s out of my face, and the part in my hair needs to be covered, or else needs sunscreen. I like headbands (such as in the picture above, where I’m wearing a Buff headband with UPF fabric).
  • Sunscreen. If the sun is out, I need sunscreen. A 12 mile training run takes 2 hours…on Friday there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
  • Get a bandana or other cloth. This is what I had to turn around for on Friday. This is a general purpose cloth for wiping sweat and blowing my nose. I refuse to be one of those runners who holds down one nostril and attempts to shoot snot out of the other. I tuck it into the waistband of my pants…it usually starts out in the back, and I typically don’t need it for the first 3 miles or so. But I’m always so glad I remembered it.

I have seen this on every long race I’ve ever done. Ugh.

  • Go potty. This is the ABSOLUTELY LAST THING I do before I head out the door. It’s dreadful needing a bathroom during the run.

Lucky for me, there happened to be a porta-potty at the boat ramp at the turnaround point on this training run this past Friday. But I didn’t even need it.


See the boat ramp? There’s a porta-potty there, yay!

With all these ingredients, I can minimize the incredible stress I a long run can cause.**

**“If it’s so stressful, why do you do it?” That’s for another post. 🙂